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Posts Tagged ‘art lessons’

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

I am taking a watercolor class. Like most art classes I’ve taken, the first few classes are frustrating for me. I feel defeated. I criticize myself over and over. This is very unattractive behavior, and my teacher is patient. He doesn’t praise me, though. He tells me that these techniques build upon each other. I am learning. It’s a process.

On Tuesday, I had my 4th class. It has taken me a while to create something I wanted to share with others. I finally pulled together the techniques into one art piece that I actually liked. My teacher pointed out the things I did well. The thin lines for branches, the shadows, the light. But still he held back. I said I was pleased with it, but he did not give out a great deal of empty praise. In fact, he told me to practice.

Watercolor pine tree by Margaret Simon

Watercolor pine tree by Margaret Simon

Sound familiar? How we try to lead our students through the writing process. We teach techniques. We look at models. We praise when we see a craft move. These lessons build a writer, but the process can be slow. It can be frustrating. Eventually, the writer will feel good about the product.

The motivation has to move away from teacher approval. The writer/artist must own the process to feel success.

My students have started the classroom Slice of Life Challenge. They are practicing. They are trying craft moves. They are noticing techniques in each other’s slices.

The creative process is a curious thing. We need to learn techniques. We need the guidance of teachers. But in the end, it’s just you and the paper. I believe in techniques, but I also believe in magic. Sometimes magic happens when you continue to show up.

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I invite other teacher-bloggers to participate in this weekly meme, DigiLit Sunday. Link your posts up below.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

On this gloomy Saturday morning, I was drinking my coffee and reading blog posts. Each one added wisdom to my thinking. And I still wasn’t sure what to write today. One blog post suggested that I just open up the page and begin. Another suggested using the month of November to think about gratitude. So here I am, opening the window of a post and writing what I am grateful for this week.

New students: I was apprehensive, as always, to receive new students. This happens in my class around this time of year because the evaluators have finished testing young referrals. This week, I welcomed 4 new gifted students. These new kiddos are so excited to be in the gifted class that they are eager and ready. They love that we blog. They each wrote their first post. “And what? We can read whatever we want!” One new guy read 4 Seymour Simon books this week!

My other students have embraced the new ones, and, so far, so good, we are becoming a new community of learners.

Authors: I love authors, and meeting them face to face is such a thrill. Last weekend I attended the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge. Right before the tornado warning closed down the festival, I met Kimberley Griffiths Little. We had a great conversation. She signed a card for one of my students who loves her books. We talked about connections and writing and hugged as friends.

Kimberly Griffiths Little

Student authors: Also at the Book Festival, I had the privilege of leading an awards ceremony for the winners of the Louisiana Letters about Literature and our state writing contest LA Writes! Seeing wide-eyed proud writers dressed in their best, listening to their little voices read their winning pieces, and sharing in the love of reading and writing filled me with joy and gratitude.

Jacob with his award

Jacob with his award

Two of my students placed first in their divisions, Vannisa and Jacob. Neither of them could attend the ceremony because of the weather, so I gave them their packets at school.

Art Lessons and Reaching: My One Little Word for this year is Reach. I’ve dabbled in art for years. When my mother gave me a nice check for my birthday, I decided to reach and commit to a series of art lessons. We meet once a week for an hour. (I always wish for more time.) At first I was very frustrated. I was not feeling successful. This was a huge learning curve as well as a good lesson for me as a teacher. Finally, after eight lessons, I received some wonderful feedback from my instructor. He said he sees a unique style emerging. Wow! That’s so cool! I celebrate Reaching and becoming the artist I want to be. As in writing, I am discovering you must practice, practice, practice to improve. There is No. Other. Way.

Blue heron

Blue heron

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Each day is a little life; every waking and rising a little birth; every fresh morning a little youth; every going to rest and sleep a little death.

– ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER

When Holly tweeted out the theme for this week, patience, I was finishing my second art lesson. I have been trying to be an artist my whole life. My father is an artist, and I want to grow up to be like him. Art takes patience. And I am not sure I have what it takes.

During this second lesson, our instructor asked us to draw an image from a photograph. He wanted us to use shading to show form. He said the word form over and over again. I think he became frustrated with me, but you would never know it. He has a calm demeanor. Patience is so important to any kind of teaching.

I wasn’t quite sure how to start or how to proceed. I was stuck with what I knew before of contour drawing. I was not familiar with his method. So he took my tablet and drew, hatching and shading. The drawing that looked like a cartoon to me began to take shape and form. I was watching a miracle. I still have no idea how to make that happen when the pencil is in my own hand.

Patience.
I have no patience with myself.
I want to be good now, but I avoid the practice that it takes.

In our limited human minds, we see bits and pieces of the whole. We see small miracles every day. God can see the whole. God knows the big picture. God is our artist.

In my impatience, I want to know now. I want to be good and right and perfect. Ah, me. That is not possible. The only real perfection is with God. In the meantime, I will continue to strive for the best, trying to remember that the Great Artist isn’t finished with me yet.

“Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Not my bird

Not my bird

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